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Content about Prayers

June 1, 2010

My quest to understand the psalms of lament began in the midst of a deep period of depression. I had spent a wonderfully rich two months in Ethiopia, recording Christian Somali music for broadcast from Ethiopia over Somalia. During my time there I received numerous “prophetic words” that doors would open for me when I returned to Canada. But within a few short months of my return I was unemployed and living in the basement of a friend’s parent’s house. My familial home had burned down and a friend of mine had committed suicide.

March 1, 2010

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This prayer was used in a Pentecost service. Though the Spirit is not explicitly mentioned throughout, the Spirit is part of all that the Godhead does. This prayer, though appropriate for Pentecost, can easily be used and adapted for any worship service, particularly one with the theme of hope.

March 1, 2009

Q  I always am anxious about Pentecost. I feel pressure to create a service in which people experience the Holy Spirit in an Acts 2 kind of way. Any advice?

A  For starters, recall again the whole scope of the Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works through both order and spontaneity, both dramatic intervention and long-term formation.

March 1, 2009

Twice a year at Redeemer University College we gather together for a time of extended prayer. We are a young university (established 1982), but from our inception we’ve had a strong tradition of seeking to be grounded in prayer. Our small campus includes a lovely prayer room for small group prayer, with two adjoining prayer “cells” for personal prayer. Every fall the student body organizes a 24/7 prayer week during which many students, faculty, and staff sign up for an hour each of continuous prayer.

December 1, 2008

In addition to teaching and praise, the psalms can be a great resource for prayer. Those appointed by Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary lend themselves particularly well to that. What follows are examples of the psalms for Year B used as building blocks for prayers of the people for Lenten Sundays.

June 1, 2008

This is the fourth in a series of articles with suggestions for how to be deliberate about encouraging faith nurture in your congregation’s worship.

June 1, 2007

For a background on Vertical Habits see Betty Grit’s article on page 4. —JB

Connecting Vertical Habits in worship to vertical habits at home and in our everyday life brings us one step closer to making those habits our natural response. The easiest way to keep those habits fresh is to incorporate them into your family or personal devotions. Here are some suggestions for an individual, family, or small group devotional time using the psalms, as well as ideas for incorporating two psalms into a Vertical Habits worship service.

June 1, 2007

In Part One of this article I presented the case that the church should consistently instruct and encourage Christians to live in obedience to God. Some complain that God’s law is a burden. Yet God’s will for our lives is not a set of arbitrary demands, it is how God designed us to live and the path to blessing. “Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked . . . but who delight in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 1).

June 1, 2007

Help me out, Lord.

Out of resentment.
Help me see the beam in my eye, not the splinter in my brother’s eye.
Help me see the beam on which the Savior died for me.

June 1, 2007

June 1, 2007

At a summer planning meeting on her back porch, Laura Smit, Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, mentioned a Psalm Festival she had done with her church in Boston—all 150 Psalms in one night. That sounded like a great project for Calvin College.

June 1, 2007

When children are young, they learn words that build relationships. Some come easily: “Help!” “Why?” Parents and grandparents persistently teach them to say to others: “Thank you.” “I’m sorry.” We celebrate as these words become habits. When a child without prompting tells her brother, “I’m sorry,” we know that these words are beginning to shape her life and her relationships.

March 1, 2007

When Steve Caton gets that glint in his eye and I see that hint of a smile working around the edges of his mouth, I know he has something unusual in mind.

Steve, the Director of Worship and Arts at Covenant Life Church, had just stuck his head in my door and said, “How about if we have the congregation go out into the community for some kind of service activity on that Sunday?” I knew exactly which day he was talking about: an upcoming Sunday when he and many key members of our worship leadership team would be out of town.

September 4, 2004

When I first started editing the Psalter Hymnal in the early 1980s, the story then making the rounds was that permission for including the song “How Great Thou Art” in the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship was finally granted with a handshake at a cost that would remain secret.

June 4, 2004

Reconciliation is a process. It is a long and often difficult road through truth and justice aimed at the restoration of broken relationships, in order to establish a new reconciled reality. There are no quick-fix solutions, no shortcuts or easy roads. The process of reconciliation that is taking place in the church in South Africa illustrates the challenges and offers guidelines for rituals of reconciliation that can help the church worldwide address its ongoing need for reconciliation.

September 3, 2003

The Christmas season extends from December 25 through January 5 and includes at least one and sometimes two Sundays. Celebrating Christmas as a season helps us enter into the meaning of the Incarnation more fully than a single celebration. Consider some of these resources for your Christmas season this year.


Calls to Worship

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

March 3, 2003
Q. I have trouble with planning our prayers of confession. People are saying the words, but I wonder how many are actually personally confessing their sin. If we aren't actually confessing, why perform this rather onerous part of the service?
June 1, 2000

Heavenly Father, our Creator and Redeemer, we bless you and praise your name.

From the very beginning you made male and female, and longed for men and women to find love and to create new life together in marriage. Marriage, at its best, wonderfully helps us see your love for us and our faithful love for each other.

You have blessed the relationship of your children [name] and [name], and have so joined them together that they might mirror the union of Christ with his Church.

March 1, 2000
Pentecost Prayer

Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life:

At the beginning of time you moved over the face of the waters;
you breathe into every living being the breath of life.

Come, Creator Spirit, and renew the whole creation.

Sung Refrain (see p. 37 for music)

Come, Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, come.

June 1, 1999

When I went to church with my parents in the late fifties, the sermon was about two peppermints long. I didn’t get peppermints during the prayer following the sermon. Hence the insufferable loooong prayer. My childhood is past; the long prayer is not. Just ask the children in church.

June 1, 1999

The service “Building Community Through Prayer” was submitted by Sandy Boersma, worship committee chair of the Brookfield (Wisconsin) Christian Reformed Church.

June 1, 1999

An encounter between God’s people and the living God is the very essence of worship. Here are some tips to help worship leaders lead God’s people in prayer.

June 1, 1999

“Praying for All God’s People” was submitted by Fred D. Rietema, Chief Chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington. It is reprinted by permission from That All May Worship: An Interfaith Welcome to People with Disabilities, produced by The National Organization on Disability, 910 16th St. NW, Suite 600, Washington DC 20006, (202) 293-5960.

June 1, 1999

“Should we include a prayer for illumination in the liturgy? Or should we leave it out this week?”

March 1, 1998

A reading of Acts 2:1-6 and John 3:16 in a variety of languages

The following reading for Pentecost is a very simple way to present the international celebration implicit in the day. It requires the use of several candles to be placed on a display table. Two readers present the first six verses from Acts 2, lighting a candle at the place where the text mentions the tongues of fire. Then, at the cue of Acts 2:6, various languages are used to present the essence of the gospel as described in John 3:16.